Just before 14:00, I was driving on 580-E in the #3 lane when traffic suddenly stopped. As I moved forward, I saw a Prius on the left shoulder, its hood under the rear wheels of an SUV. The SUV's airbags were deployed. There were no emergency vehicles around, and I noticed someone trying to get out of the front passenger side. I made a snap decision that I might be able to help out, and took advantage of a sudden gap to move two lanes over to the left shoulder, where I parked far enough forward that emergency vehicles could get access and put on my hazards. Trying to get my door open quickly, I accidentally started raising my windows.
I sprinted back towards the wreck, where I noticed an older gentleman slightly dazed standing off to the side. He was able to answer my questions. Someone then pointed out "she needs help getting out" and pointed towards the passenger side. I moved over to help, where two other guys were trying to help an older lady out of the car. Her knee / leg were hurt with no obvious signs of external trauma, so we moved her behind the wreck and sat her down against the dividing wall.
The Prius' windows were still up, and the passenger was on the phone. I knocked on the window and asked if they were okay. They seemed to be okay, with normal amount of disorientation after being in an accident. The passenger told me there had been a hit and run. I could hear the SUV's car alarm still going off, so I entered through the passenger side to turn the car off and make sure the emergency brake was on. Another bystander was in the driver's side, looking for the driver's phone. She was able to hit the emergency brake on the driver's side. I didn't bother putting the car in park.
I noticed the driver had some small avulsions on his knuckles and his arm was pretty bruised, so I ran back to my car to grab some bandages. I couldn't find my first aid kit in my backpack, so I had to dig through my trunk to find one. I didn't have any of the right kind of bandages, so I just handed him a gauze pad to put on it to absorb some of the blood.
At this point, EMS and the highway patrol started pulling up. While I waited to talk to the police officer, I helped move some debris out of the way.
The police officer gathered my ID and started walking with me back towards my car. As he turned away, I noticed a second wreck ahead; it looked like a rubbernecking rear end with no injuries, and I pointed it out to the police. "Oh, so we have one of those," he said.
- I could have spent more time assessing the driver and passenger, and probably the people in the Prius.
- I am going to build out a better vehicle response kit. I know what needs to go into it, I have all the supplies here already, I just need to build it.
- You never know when you might be able to take action, so you should always be ready and capable of taking action.
- I had removed my first aid (not trauma) kit out of my EDC backpack, so I had to dig in my trunk for another. My vehicle med kit was trauma focused and would benefit from having more quality-of-life supplies like bandaids and knuckle bandages.
- If I knew where everything in my bag was from muscle memory, I would have known the first aid kit wasn't in there.
- My vehicle medical supplies need to be better organized. I'm going to work on building an actual response kit that is capable of treating multiple people in an accident with varying levels of injuries, instead of digging through my backpacking and EDC supplies.
- I knew that, given where I was, EMS response was likely to be on scene within 5-10 minutes, so I didn't try to do a lot of medical stuff so as not to get in the paramedics way.
- When I had to access stuff from my passenger side, I wasn't pulled over far enough to the left. It could have been a safety issue, but it wasn't.
- I didn't save any lives. No one's life was in immediate danger. However, I and others were ready to do so if needed. At the very least, we were there to support some people in a tangible, meaningful way during a terrible time.
- One of the bystanders found a role directing traffic around the wreck. Another car found a role blocking traffic in the lane right next to the accident. You may not find a role directly helping the people in the accident, but you can find ways to be useful.
- I need to put in a dash cam; I have one, I just haven't installed it yet. I saw part of the accident (which turned out to be a hit and run), but in the concern of making sure I was able to drive safely and not get into another accident, as well as deciding whether or not I could or should help, I didn't remember many details.